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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Two Chelsea Player In The FIFPro Team of the Year for 2007

After 3.75 million votes were cast by 277,985 users, the users' Team of 2007 has been revealed. UEFA Champions League winners AC Milan take three of the twelve positions in a selection which features just two of last year's team, a mix of established stars and new talent and overdue recognition for some of the game's biggest names.

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF)Often nominated but not selected until now, Iker Casillas has been one of Europe's best keepers. Only 26, he has 73 Spain caps and appeared 84 times for Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. He was in stellar form in 2007, playing a key role as Los Merengues regained the Spanish title. He finished more than 10,000 votes ahead of Petr Čech, with whom he shares a birthday, polling over 90,000 votes.

Right-back: Daniel Alves (Sevilla FC)After just missing out on last year's team, archetypal attacking full-back Daniel Alves edged out archetypal defensive full-back Sergio Ramos in this year's selection. Alves is to the right flank what compatriot Roberto Carlos was to the left. Always looking to attack without shunning defensive duties, Alves was a central figure in Sevilla's second successive UEFA Cup triumph and also scored in Brazil's Copa América final triumph.

Central defender: Alessandro Nesta (AC Milan)After missing out on Italy's 2006 FIFA World Cup triumph, Alessandro Nesta may have had a point to prove on his return and he did so with an excellent display in Milan's UEFA Champions League final. He then helped the Rossoneri triumph in the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, where he scored a goal in the decider.

Central defender: John Terry (Chelsea FC)John Terry topped the poll for central defender despite the fact that he missed a lot of the year through injury. However, when he was playing, Terry showed enough to confirm his status as one of the best stoppers around. He scored the first international goal at the new Wembley stadium in June and he also led Chelsea to FA Cup and League Cup triumphs as well as to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the third time in four seasons.

Left-back: Eric Abidal (Olympique Lyonnais/FC Barcelona)The France defender pipped last year's winner Philipp Lahm by less than one per cent of the vote. However, there is no doubt that Abidal is one of the finest full-backs around. He started the year with Lyon and his partnership with Florent Malouda was one of the strongest left sides in the game as he won a third successive Ligue 1 title. He has since impressed with Barcelona and is France's undisputed number one left-back.

Right midfield: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United FC)Undoubtedly the finest winger in the world, Ronaldo was in stunning form in 2007. He scored 29 goals for Manchester United in all competitions as they regained their Premier League title as well as reaching the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. In addition, he scored five goals as Portugal qualified for UEFA EURO 2008™. He was selected as player of the year by both journalists and his fellow professionals in England and was also voted Portuguese Player of the Year.

Centre midfield: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool FC)The Liverpool talisman may have lost out to Milan in the UEFA Champions League final, but Gerrard finished well ahead of second-placed Andrea Pirlo in the voting in this category. He also received more votes as captain than any other player, over 40,000. He led Liverpool to a second final in three years and late in 2007 scored in seven successive matches, including the last three UEFA Champions League fixtures as Liverpool reached the last 16.

Attacking midfield: Kaká (AC Milan)With 220,333 votes, Kaká topped the poll overall after a brilliant year which underlined his status as the best player in the world. Top scorer with ten goals as Milan won the UEFA Champions League; Kaká also won the UEFA Super Cup – scoring in the final – and was chosen as best player when Milan won the Club World Cup.

Left midfield: Clarence Seedorf (AC Milan)The most successful player in UEFA Champions League history shone again in 2007 with his fourth final victory. He finished over 6,000 votes ahead of Ricardo Quaresma to be selected for a second time, five years after his previous triumph. His season was highlighted by crucial strikes against FC Bayern München and Manchester United in the quarter and semi-finals en route to another European success and his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance against Celtic FC in December.

Forward: Zlatan Ibrahimović (FC Internazionale Milano)In the past twelve months, the mercurial Swede has added the consistency to the ability and self-confidence he always possessed. He was top scorer for Inter as they won the 2006/2007 Scudetto and he continued in that vein in the final months of the year, finishing as joint top scorer in the UEFA Champions League with five goals in six games.

Forward: Didier Drogba (Chelsea FC)Belated recognition for the Ivorian after he played such a crucial role in Chelsea's Premier League title triumph in 2006. He finished top scorer in the Premier League in 2006/07 with 21 goals, scored twice in Chelsea's League Cup 2-1 final win against Arsenal FC and forced in the winner in the first FA Cup final at the new Wembley in extra time against Manchester United. He also scored four goals in four games as Chelsea advanced to the last 16 of the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League.

Coach: Sir Alex Ferguson.The Scottish manager who led Manchester United to the UEFA Champions League in 1999 gets a long overdue award after guiding The Red Devils to the ninth title of his remarkable two-decade reign at Old Trafford. He has built arguably his third great United team and after reaching the semi-finals in 2007, he will be hopeful of another UEFA Champions League triumph in 2008.